Report shows growth in social enterprises


Firstport has published a report on the importance of social enterprises to mark 10 years in operation

13th September 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Thousands of businesses with a social purpose have been set up in Scotland – almost half of them in the last decade.

To mark its 10th anniversary, Firstport has published a report which demonstrates that social enterprise is a key factor in growing an inclusive Scottish economy.

Many of the 5600 social enterprises in Scotland have been supported by the organisation – a development agency set up in 2007 to support social enterprise start-ups in Scotland.

Learning to Start Something Good – which has been presented alongside a film called Start Something Good – showed that 81% of ventures suggested are off the ground and half of them have taken on premises.

Each of the businesses now employs an average of three people, rising to an average of more than five employees among the social entrepreneurs that Firstport first helped five or more years ago.

Chief executive Karen McGregor said: “There are now 5600 social enterprises in Scotland, 34% of them formed in the last 10 years, providing over 81,000 full-time jobs, £3.8 billion in annual income and £2.74 billion in trading income.

“It is an exciting time for the sector with new developments such as Scotland’s Ten Year Social Enterprise Strategy, and the Scottish Government funding for the Social Entrepreneurs Fund – delivered by Firstport - doubling to £1 million for each of the next three years.”

Since it started, Firstport has set up Scotland’s first and only social enterprise accelerator programme LaunchMe, and awarded grants to over 800 individuals with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Scottish Government, Resilient Scotland and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

Chairman Peter Shakeshaft added: “Social enterprise is an increasingly important part of our economy. Business angels in Scotland are becoming increasingly aware of social investment, which combined with social investment tax relief, is a formula that works for both the investor and investee and an area that has potential to expand further.”

One example of someone who has benefitted is Reuben Chesters, founder of Glasgow food supplier Locavore. He received Firstport funding of £5000 in 2012 to test and develop his enterprise and later got a further award of £20,000 to expand to a bigger shop in the city’s Nithsdale Road.

In 2015 he won a place on LaunchMe, Firstport’s accelerator programme commissioned by Big Lottery Fund, to scale up to become a large social enterprise grocery store and take on the major supermarkets. After securing further private investment, Locavore recently secured a site on the city’s Southside which will include a café and function room as well as space to produce food for sale.

He said: “Locavore could never have reached this stage without the advice, support and funding from Firstport.”